Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mystical Christianity

Questions For the Heart and Mind

1. What role does sacrifice play in your life?  Do you view it as positive or negative?
Sacrifice plays a role in my life. Being available to minister to people who are in need often requires that I work unsocial hours and times, over public holidays and family days such as Christmas or Easter. At times there might be a personal need to be attended to in my life which needs to be put on the back burner for a while in order to assist someone else who needs assistance. This involves a small sacrifice of what would suit my life best at that point, in order to be available to help another more in need at that time.
I believe that sacrifice can have both positive and negative aspects. The reason I say this is because sacrifice, if done with maturity and balance, involves my putting aside a lesser personal need in order to be available to effectively minister and assist others. However, if I lose balance, sacrifice could be pursued to the detriment of personal well-being and health which in the end, defeats the purpose. Ministry should not be pursued to the detriment of family life and personal health and energy. Each sacrifice thus necessitates ongoing discernment, and a renewed decision as to the best course to take in each instance.
2. If Yeshua did not come to save us from our sins, what was his mission and purpose?
I believe that Yeshua was our Redeemer, and His mission was to establish His Church to bring comfort and ongoing emotional/spiritual support to all; and to build up the relationship between humanity and God.
3. Do you believe that Yeshua survived his crucifixion? How would it affect your faith if he did?
I do not personally believe that Yeshua survived his crucifixion. I believe that He survived his crucifixion in another dimension, that is, He resurrected after his crucifixion. The importance of this for me is that Yeshua was able to resurrect to immortal life, giving testimony to the fact that He was Son of God with Divine powers, as well as being of human origin. If Yeshua had physically survived the crucifixion, and died later of old age, the testimony of His regenerative powers of immortality as Son of God would not have been borne testimony to, as they were in the Gospels.
If Yeshua had survived his crucifixion, and was human and not the Son of God as He claimed and I believe Him to be, the difference it would make to my faith is that instead of following Jesus as Son of God with the hope of immortality and a life of happiness in the heavenly afterlife, I would be following a good human being who had mistakenly thought Himself to be Son of God. Either way, I would still be following the most wonderful Person Who chose life over death; peace over war; peacemaking instead of violence; forgiveness instead of revenge; mercy instead of retribution; gentleness instead of harshness; kindness instead of cruelty. These are all values I hold in reverence and honour, and which are embodied for me in the Person of Jesus Christ.
4. How do you see the role of Judas in the drama of Yeshua’s passion? Was he a betrayer or part of a larger Divine Plan?
I believe Judas to have been a betrayer, but no more culpable of malicious wrongdoing than many who have made a mistaken decision. Judas' sincere repentance and remorse so swiftly after the consequences of his decision to prize money over loyalty and relationship shows, to me, that he had not thought through what the results of his actions would be. The fact that he committed suicide because he could not bear the suffering of the torture and the fact that Jesus was to be crucified shows, in my opinion, that he had a conscience and sincere affection for Jesus. He made a colossal mistake. And who of us, as humans, has not made at least one mistake?
I believe Judas' weakness for money became part of the fabric of a larger Divine Plan, and became the catalyst for the events that unfolded. God worked through the tragic events, to unfold the greatest act of mercy and gift to our troubled humanity we could have been given; immortality and redemption from the breach in relationship which had existed between humanity and God for so long. I believe, too, that there is forgiveness for Judas. As I heard in a sermon in a church many years ago, the person who commits suicide throws him/herself into the infinite ocean of mercy of God.
  1. What influence do you believe the pagan mystery religions had on the development of Christianity? What do they have to teach us today?
I believe the pagan mystery religions had a significent influence on the development of Christianity. Many of the pagan rites and days of celebration were remodeled and incorporated into Christian feasts and days of worship. I believe the merit of balance to be important in the body-mind-soul trinity of each human and each structural organization. It is when the three elements of the human is respected in equal balance that greatest maturity and growth in each human occurs.
Pagan mystery religions often had great respect for the wonder of the human body, and the mysteries of the human mind and spirit, as well as great understanding of the miracle of nature. The sense of mystery, of the great unknown, was also deeply respected in pagan religions. I believe respect for the wonder of the gift of the creation of the human body by God, allied to the mystery and wonder of the human intellect and spirit, inspire us to celebration and reverence for mystery.


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